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After their resounding 43-12 win over New Zealand final weekend- England’s largest ever victory over the Black Ferns – head coach Simon Middleton has shuffled his squad forward of his facet’s second encounter in opposition to the world champions at Franklin’s Gardens on Sunday.

In an indication that she’s going to certainly be England’s future chief after subsequent yr’s World Cup, he has handed Poppy Cleall the captaincy for the primary time, with Sarah Hunter dropping to the bench.

In fact, it was solely a matter of time earlier than Cleall was rewarded with such an honour. The Saracens participant has established herself as a key member amongst England’s management group over the previous 18 months. Off the pitch, she has additionally change into more and more vocal about inequality inside ladies’s sport and final yr known as out a number one rugby package producer upon realising it solely provided rugby boots for males.

Unsurprisingly, Middleton hailed the 29 year-old as “pure match” for the position. “Midds pulled me to 1 facet and advised me. I used to be shocked and honoured,” stated Cleall, who will probably be supported by scrum-half Leanne Infante (nee Riley) as vice-captain. “This entire week has simply been an unbelievable expertise. I’m simply hoping to take pleasure in this weekend, replicate on it and pinch myself afterwards.”


Middleton talked up the significance of a weightier pack final week in opposition to a rusty New Zealand outfit who had been taking part in their first Test match in additional than two years due to the pandemic.

England dominated the set-piece, however amid the expectation of a so-called ‘blacklash’ within the midlands, modifications have been rung among the many forwards.

Cleall assumes her most popular place at No 8 and a brand new second-row mixture of Abbie Ward and Zoe Aldcroft is being trialled, such is the boldness amongst England’s camp.

Alex Matthews, a 2014 World Cup winner who has switched her focus to XVs after competing for Team GB at this yr’s Tokyo Olympics, has additionally been introduced into the equation on the blindside. “There’s going to be a response this weekend, that goes with out saying,” added Middleton. “But it is what we wish as a result of the larger the problem, the higher it is going to be.”


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